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OSU entomologists on hunt for lady beetles in Ohio

5/9/2013 - West Side Leader
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By Staff Writer

COLUMBUS/WOOSTER — Ohio State University (OSU) entomologists are trying to determine how many “homegrown” lady beetles are in Ohio compared to the number of exotic lady beetles in the Buckeye state and are asking Ohio farmers, gardeners and homeowners for assistance.

Mary Gardiner, an entomologist with OSU’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences, is conducting the Buckeye Lady Beetle Blitz as part of an effort to recruit some 200 Ohio farmers, gardeners and homeowners to volunteer to collect data on lady beetles in their farms, gardens and backyards and report their findings to use for research efforts.

“Many types of native lady beetles are declining in Ohio, while the introductions of exotic non-native species of lady beetles are increasing,” said Gardiner. “Lady beetles are a beneficial insect for gardeners and farmers because they provide natural pest control. Therefore, it is relevant for Ohio farmers and gardeners to understand why these populations are changing. This type of large-scale survey is one good way to measure this.”

Lady beetles, which are sometimes called ladybugs or lady bird beetles, are beneficial predators that consume aphids, scale insects and many other pests that injure plants in gardens, landscapes and agricultural settings, said Gardiner, who holds appointments with the OSU Extension and Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (OARDC), which are the outreach and research arms, respectively, of the college.

Ohio’s state insect is a native species, the convergent lady beetle, Hippodamia convergens Guérin.

Interested volunteers can sign up for one of two day-long training workshops to learn what to look for, how to collect ladybugs and to receive a ladybug collection tool kit, Gardiner said.

The workshops are scheduled for:

  • May 20 from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Nationwide and Ohio Farm Bureau 4-H Center, 2201 Fred Taylor Drive, on OSU’s Columbus campus; and
  • May 22 from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. in Fisher Auditorium at the OARDC, 1680 Madison Ave. in Wooster.

Both workshops will feature information on why lady beetles are important to agriculture, how to identify various lady beetle species and hands-on activities. Registration for each workshop is $20 and includes lunch and the collection tool kit, which consists of a ladybug identification sheet, data collection sheet, tote bag and yellow sticky trap to catch ladybugs.

An online training session, which also costs $20, is available for those who can’t attend either workshop, Gardiner said.

The deadline to register for the workshops is May 15. For details or to register, contact Mary Griffith at 614-292-0618 or griffith.483@osu.edu.

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